Whaleshark diving in Yomitan, Okinawa
We, at Piranha Divers, do not offer or endorse local whale shark diving as the whalesharks here are held in captivity rather than in their most natural state in the ocean - where free movement is a given. We believe that holding such magnificent animals in captivity is against the principles we try to maintain, which requires a moral understanding of our surroundings, accepting the concepts that recognizes that the highest regard for the ocean is to do no harm to the environment, or the animals that live there.
Reasons for why we believe the public should refrain from diving with the whalesharks in Okinawa are:
- Whalesharks in the cage are not fed enough. The diveguide will typically bring a bag of krill for each dive in order to entice the whalesharks to swim towards divers and snorkelers. This amount of feed is hardly enough to feed up to three huge whalesharks, even if 4 trips are offered per day; a juvenile whaleshark requires 21kg/46 pounds of plankton per day, so 63kg/138 pounds/day for 3, far from the quantity of feed they receive in the cage.
- While feeding, whalesharks will often scrape along the net structure with their mouths and fins. Since the net structure is placed there for several years, corals and other sharp marine life grows on the net, which can cut into the shark's skin. Untreated infections can be seen on the shark's fins and mouths.
- Whalesharks are normally very docile creatures, but when large groups of divers and snorklelers enter their cage, the sharks are then under permanent stress and often act aggressive towards Scuba divers.
- The size of the cage is depressingly small. It is designed to offer visitors a 100% chance of seeing the whalesharks. The whales, being so confined and stressed, do not live very long under these conditions.
- The operators of the whaleshark cage do NOT work together with the Aquarium or any other scientific research project here in Okinawa, even though sources close to the operators have claimed otherwise.
- It's not safe for divers! Diving in the cage is similar to diving in a cave, where special training is needed. Yes, a diver can see the surface, but in an emergency situation, divers can not ascend quickly. Recreational divers (of any agency) are not trained to dive in an overhead environment and usually do not carry the right gear to execute such dives in a safe manner.
We teach divers to respect the environment and encourage all divers joining us to do so as well. Therefore, we do not support a commercial operation that keeps multiple whalesharks confined to an underwater cage solely for profit!
Whalesharks are listed as an Endangered Species under the IUCN Red List and should be protected.
Please inquire about other dives in Okinawa and we will be very happy to assist. We offer some of the best diving on the island, based on our principles. Thank you!